Utes’ Branden Carlson named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Utah center Branden Carlson (35) blocks a shot by Stanford forward James Keefe (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

After sweeping the Bay Area schools over the weekend, the University of Utah men’s basketball team picked up a Pac-12 weekly award Monday.

For the first time this season, 7-foot center Branden Carlson was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week by the league office.

In Thursday night’s overtime win over Stanford, Carlson, a 2017 Bingham High School graduate, was a revelation. His 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks — all career highs — marked his best game as a collegian. The eight blocks are tied for third-most in a single game in Utah history.

Utah (14-9, 5-6 Pac-12) can creep its way back into the postseason picture with a good showing on one of the Pac-12’s toughest road trips this weekend, at Oregon State on Thursday and at Oregon on Sunday.

The Utes, who are 0-5 on the road vs. the Pac-12 this season, split against the Oregon schools at home last month. A decisive 81-69 win over the Beavers was followed by a hard-fought 69-64 loss to then-No. 4 Ducks. The Oregon loss is Utah’s only defeat at the Huntsman Center, where it is 10-1 after the Stanford-Cal sweep.